Elder Abuse: A Challenge to the Mental Health System This articles was written by Michael B. Friedman, MSW and Kerri Tavel, LCSW, and was previously published More →
NYCEAC’s Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs)
Financial exploitation. Physical abuse. Psychological Abuse. Abandonment. Neglect. All are aspects of elder abuse, increasingly common nationwide, with over 120,000 older adults victimized in their own homes each year in NYC alone – and with 96% of these cases going unreported. The cases are heartbreaking and complex, requiring innovative solutions. Evidence exists that a collaborative response improves the effectiveness of agency responses and efficiently utilizes scarce resources.1
Consequently, the NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC) has focused on developing and implementing successful multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) throughout NYC. These teams represent a highly collaborative endeavor; they regularly bring together professionals from diverse fields (e.g., social work, medicine, law, nursing and psychiatry) and systems (e.g., criminal justice, health care, mental health, adult protective services, aging network). The teams review, discuss and coordinate cases of elder abuse and neglect and identify systemic and resource problems that can be brought to the attention of others for strategizing and intervention. Additionally, MDTs serve as an important informational resource for professionals working in the health, mental health, public safety, justice/legal, victim assistance and social service systems.
NYCEAC now coordinates and facilitates two multidisciplinary teams—one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn MDT (BMDT) was launched in 2010 and the Manhattan Enhanced MDT (EMDT) was launched in 2013.
All of the MDTs offer a central response point for the agencies and people working on elder abuse cases in the community. Professionals throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan have an opportunity to present complex elder abuse cases to the MDTs to receive recommendations on assessment and interventions from the teams. To facilitate the flow of cases to the teams, NYCEAC staff and team members conduct orientations on the MDTs – their goals, structure and intake processes – so that professionals will understand how to access the teams’ services and how best to present cases to the teams. All cases are triaged through NYCEAC’s Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator.
The BMDT and the EMDT have representatives from the following organizations assigned to them:
- Carter Burden Center for the Aging
- District Attorney’s Offices, Elder Abuse Units
- FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)
- Forensic Accountant, Mary Karen Webber, CPA, PLLC
- Legal Aid Society
- NYC Department for the Aging
- NYC Elder Abuse Center
- NYC Human Resources Administration
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- JASA APS
- TSI/NY APS
- Village Care APS
- Office of Legal Affairs
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
- New York Police Department (NYPD)
- Weill Cornell Medicine, Division of Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine and Department of Psychiatry
- Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention
The teams differ in the frequency of the meetings, focus of cases and representation. The Enhanced MDT meets twice a month. The “E” in EMDT/Manhattan is for “enhanced”—enhanced with geropsychiatrists and forensic accountants. Today, both teams are enhanced with geropsychiatry and forensic accounting. Geriatricians have been Core Members of both teams from the start. The team will be evaluated by a federally-funded evaluation team selected by Health and Human Services to understand the value of utilizing forensic accountants on financial exploitation cases in terms of finances restored and prevention of financial loss.
Although the two teams are designed differently, they all offer a central response point for the agencies and people working on elder abuse cases in the community. In addition, they utilize a case consultation model to improve the health and quality of life for older adults. This is accomplished through reviewing, discussing and coordinating cases of elder abuse and neglect; identifying systemic and resource problems that can be brought to the attention of others for strategizing and intervention; and identifying research needs.
In-Service Training on Accessing the MDTs
The NYC Elder Abuse Center’s staff and team members conduct orientations on the MDTs – their goals, structure and intake processes – so that professionals will understand how to access the teams’ services and how best to present cases to the teams. Click here for more information about these training opportunities.
Support for MDT Facilitators
NYCEAC facilitates a monthly phone-based peer leadership support group for facilitators of long-standing and nascent MDTs, and for those thinking about forming an MDT. For more information about this peer leadership group, contact Risa Breckman, LCSW, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Wiglesworth, A, Mosqueda, L, Burnight, K et. al. Findings from an elder abuse forensics center. The Gerontologist 2006; 46:277-283. [↩]